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TotalEnergies and Masdar Fly Methanol Fueled Plane at COP28 :: Uganda Radionetwork

TotalEnergies and Masdar Fly Methanol Fueled Plane at COP28

Press release
The first test flight to demonstrate the potential for converting Methanol to SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) took place in Dubai on the sidelines of COP28 in the UAE.
07 Dec 2023 12:37
A solar-powered aircraft (Solar Arena) flying over Dubai. Yesterday another aircraft powered by SAF was tested at the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai. Future fuels derived from non-hydrocarbon feedstocks are sure to be widely touted by energy player
TotalEnergies SE on Wednesday announced the first test flight demonstrating the potential of converting methanol to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The aviation industry is engaged in a search for technologies that will reduce the nearly one billion tonnes of annual carbon emissions from fossil fuel use. 

There has been an attempt to explore solar-powered batteries and now methanol or e-SAF to decarbonize aviation. The first test flight to demonstrate the potential for converting Methanol to SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) took place in Dubai on the sidelines of COP28 in the UAE. The Alcohol-to-Jet Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene pathway (ATJ-SPK) was certified in 2016 as meeting international standards for jet fuel. However, Methanol is not on the list of specified alcohols.

The flight, which used a blend of aviation fuel made from olefins, will help support the certification of this new pathway for SAF production from methanol. With the potential to be derived from renewable electricity, the new pathway could lead to eSAF, an essential lever to meet the challenge of producing SAF worldwide to decarbonize aviation.

The launch of the (Dubai Framework) for Sustainable Aviation Fuel, represented an important step on the path towards a more sustainable future in aviation. This test flight demonstrates the shared ambition of Masdar and TotalEnergies to advance the development of SAF and provide another option in ongoing efforts to decarbonize the aviation industry.

Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, CEO of Masdar was quoted in a statement by TotalEnergies, saying that SAF has huge potential for reducing the hard-to-abate aviation sector’s carbon emissions. “Masdar is proud to support the development and growth of this sector. It is a sign of our commitment that we have forged several strategic partnerships in this area,” said Jameel Al Ramahi. 

Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of TotalEnergies said they are delighted to have initiated this scouting effort together with Masdar. “As industry and energy companies, our collective job is to work on the next generation of clean aviation fuels that could complement SAF currently produced from used cooking oil. This novel pathway to jet, through e-SAF, is critical to support the decarbonization of the aviation industry,” said Patrick Pouyanné. 

In 2021, aviation became one of the few industries to adopt a climate goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.  The EU’s ReFuelEU proposal aims to boost production of SAF by mandating a minimum volume of SAF in aviation fuel starting at two percent in 2025 and increasing to 63 percent in 2050. Sustainable aviation fuel is an immediately available solution for significantly reducing the CO2 emissions of air transportation.

It can be used as a drop-in fuel without modifying existing storage and refueling infrastructure, aircraft, or engines. Gradual incorporation worldwide should help significantly lower the CO2 emissions of air transportation since, on average, bio-jet fuel produces an average of 80 percent fewer CO2 emissions over its lifecycle when produced from waste and residue. 

SAF, a synthetic fuel derived from renewable energy, is compatible with jet engines and offers similar performance to fossil fuels. Last month, aviation experts held the third ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels in Dubai to assess progress on the development and deployment of SAF, Lower Carbon Aviation Fuel (LCAF), and other cleaner energy sources for aviation.